Chicken. Egg. Press Release. Pitch. Which comes first? Who cares?

February 8, 2008 at 6:41 pm Leave a comment

Sally Saville Hodge

One of the most time-honored questions that I have been asked more times than I can possibly count over a very long career as a communicator has also got to be one of the most inane:

Do you send the press release to the reporter first? Or pitch first?

This burning issue reared its head again as a non sequitur at the end of a long thread of comments on a recent Tough Sledding post. Author/moderator Bill Sledzik was gracious but apparently nonplussed: Dunno, he said. When he was a practitioner, he hated doing media relations.

For those of us who do it anyway, here are some ways to look at it.

First, the press release is only one tool in the PR arsenal. And a lot of people, myself included, believe that it’s losing its relevance for many purposes. In an environment where “mass” is losing ground to one-on-one relationship building, a release that the journalist knows is also being send to hundreds of other reporters (since most PR folks follow the “more s— you throw against the wall” theory) will pretty much prompt a hit on the delete button.

Secondly, how do most practitioners “pitch” these days? Maybe our brand of PR is different, but 99 percent of our pitching is done via e-mail. We save the phone – when it’s necessary – for follow-up conversations after we’ve established a contact. Using the phone for the initial pitch (whether it’s been preceded by a release or not) is almost guaranteed to get you lost in voicemail hell.

But if you must do a press release (a fact sheet or FAQ won’t do), here’s an answer to this pressing question, a solution that seems tailor-made for the times. Which comes first? Both!

Your pitch is the text of the e-mail. Short, sweet, customized, and clearly showing that you understand your idea’s relevance to each reporter and his/her readers. And, might I mention, well-written, as well. But you also embed the release in the text field below the pitch and mention its presence for the reporter’s convenience.

A two-fer. Another issue solved.

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Entry filed under: Media Relations, Public Relations.

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